It’s Halloween month, y’all, and you know what that means! It’s time to catch up on our favorite horror movies and gear up for Halloween! Last year, I did a Halloween special where I reviewed some of my favorite horror, or Halloween-appropriate movies and I had so much fun doing that, I wanted to do it again. Sadly, I don’t like a lot of horror movies, so my pool of material is about as deep as a puddle in summer in California. So in order to rectify this, I’ve reached out to the deepest and darkest corners of the internet and asked for a little help. And by that, I mean I went on Facebook. So, a very special thanks to the Movie Talk community, as well as my friends and co-workers, for your horror movie suggestions. I won’t be able to get to every single recommendation, but you’ve all left me with great ideas and there’s always next year! This is my Halloween Special 2018!
Cast: Jennifer Carpenter (QUARANTINE  and AVENGERS CONFIDENTIAL: BLACK WIDOW & PUNISHER ), Laura Linney (THE DINNER , NOCTURNAL ANIMALS , MR. HOLMES , and LOVE ACTUALLY ), Tom Wilkinson (DENIAL , MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL , and RUSH HOUR ), Campbell Scott (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN , and the upcoming THE CHAPERONE ), Shohreh Aghdashloo (THE PROMISE , STAR TREK: BEYOND , X-MEN: THE LAST STAND , and the upcoming SIMPLE WEDDING )
Director/Co-writer: Scott Derrickson (DOCTOR STRANGE  and SINISTER )
Co-writer: Paul Harris Boardman (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Composer: Christopher Young (SINISTER and THE GRUDGE )
Cinematographer: Tom Stern (THE MEG  and SULLY )
Editor: Jeff Betancourt (THE GRUDGE 2 , and upcoming films BEHOLD MY HEART  and MARY )
This is my honest opinion of: THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE
Nineteen year old Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) has just died and Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson) has been arrested for her death on the grounds of negligent homicide. The Archdiocese has personally requested Erin Bruner (Laura Linney), an Agnostic, to defend Father Moore in his trial and determine if the cause of her death was a result of being an epileptic psychotic, or if her death really was the result of demonic possession.
You know what? I gotta say, I rather liked this film. It’s a unique horror film, blending supernatural horror with courtroom drama and somehow it really works. While I won’t call this movie particularly scary, I will say that it’s effective.
I’m actually going to start with my biggest issue with the movie, and that’s the court case itself. Not that I’ve been in many courtrooms, so I can exactly attest to what would be considered accurate for a case like this in real life, I am going to question a few things. For one, if an idea is brought forth, such as the idea that Emily was a psychotic epileptic, but even the doctor who made that conclusion comes out and says that it was only a possibility, rather than stone cold fact… don’t that, by his very admission, rule out that this is not a fact? So why is Douchie McPornStache- Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott) – constantly saying that the evidence presented is fact? This doesn’t seem like a case that has a very strong series of “facts.” Also, it doesn’t sound very professional. Especially considering how many times he’s harassed a witness, or had otherwise shown hostility toward a witness, I’m honestly a little baffled why he was still allowed to question anyone. But that’s beside the point. The point is, as I said, is that this case has nothing factual about it. Everything presented leaves room for speculation and interpretation.
The movie does this weird thing by setting up that Erin will be facing opposition from the evil spirits. IE, like she’s experience hauntings of her own. However, there’s only one or two scenes where that happens and both of them go nowhere. I know this movie took some incredible liberties with the real incident involving Anneliese Michel, but if you’re going to go almost full fiction on us, give us something else, or get rid of it entirely. While it would have certainly deviated the focus from the more dramatic elements that this movie is clearly going for, it would have amounted to something at least. But nope, neither Erin nor Father Moore have to do battle with demons in this movie outside of one or two incidents that are pointless.
But those problems aside, I have to talk about everything that this movie did right in my opinion.
First off, there’s not much in the way of jump scares, which only the best horror films do away with. That’s not to say that there isn’t disturbing imagery. The demonic faces in the people around her, people in cars, demonic faces in windows, all pretty nuts, but by far the best stuff comes from Emily herself. Thanks to an absolutely great performance from Carpenter, she perfectly captures a woman who is freaking out, but when the possession starts kicking in, she sells it like a champ. While she’s no contortionist, she does an effective job with making her body in unnatural positions and looking creepy doing it without going full Bonnie Morgan. The make up, the discoloration of her face, the black eyes, all fantastically delivered by Carpenter. Even the way the demon, or demons, challenge Father Moore is creepy. It’s mocking, but it doesn’t smile. I loved it.
Weirdly enough, in this horror-courtroom-drama, the courtroom drama is actually quite compelling. Everyone’s selling their performances and Linney… damn, I’m curious if you could pay her to act horribly in a movie, it would somehow still work. As per usual, she’s awesome. I don’t think it’s a movie that makes her stand out, but she clocks in and does her job like a boss. Also, it’s always a treat to see Aghdashloo in a movie. That woman classes up a set like she owns it. Would someone please give her a starring role, for the love of Christ!
Overall, I gotta say that this movie is a respectably made horror film. As I said, I think it’s a unique film that’s mostly a courtroom drama, but its mix of horror elements are quite enjoyable and blend very well together. It’s a good thing this formula hasn’t been attempted again, as far as I know, because no one’s going to do it better. Can I see people not liking this movie? Oh yeah. The horror isn’t all that scary, and this is coming from someone who is prone to nightmares. But like any great horror film, it has great characters and great performances. There’s real effort to make something special and I frankly think they did a good job. It’s not without its flaws. I mean, attack cats? Please, I only barely contained my laughter. But when the movie works, it works well. So as a recommendation, I say check it out if you haven’t. Don’t see it if you want to get scared though, only if you’re more interested in something different and leaning toward drama.
My honest rating for THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: 4/5